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Course Description

This 6-hour, 3 session, low participant-to-instructor ratio, eCourse will explore how stolen and looted art can serve as a criminal currency for networks that support themselves on the proceeds of crime, money laundering, drugs, arms, and even (on occasion) terrorism. This introductory course provides the rudimentary framework of the history of transnational cultural property crime, while underscoring this is not a victimless crime, or a crime that only impacts the wealthy..


Key Concepts Covered include:

➣ What is meant by Transnational Organised Crime (TOC).
➣ How Transnational Organised Crime has an intractable footprint in the glamorous world of art.
➣ Transnational crime actors: the self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate, wholly or in part, by illegal means and irrespective of geography.
➣ A sampling of noteworthy cases, each chosen because it represents a trend, change, or category we are observing in transnational art and antiquities crime today.

At the course’s conclusion, participants will come away with a solid introductory understanding of the history and evolution of this oft-overlooked, sector off the crime world.



This course is taught by Lynda Albertson, the CEO of the Association for Research into Crimes Against Art and ARCA’s Academic Director, Dr. Edgar Tijhuis, both of whom spearhead a variety of ARCA initiatives related to the protection of endangered cultural heritage, countering illicit trade, and providing methods and approaches to examine and address looting and trafficking.



What You’ll Learn


How transnational art crime differs from drugs and arms smuggling

We will explore the similarities and dissimilarities between differing types of criminal enterprises, with an emphasis on why art crime is a global concern, with a large number of countries affected by it as origin, transit, or destination points.

About the lifecycle from theft to market

We will see concrete examples of how long it takes for a looted artefact to be laundered on the lucrative art market.

How private collectors and museums sometimes contribute to the problem

Driven by their sometimes unwitting enthusiasm, through this course we will gain an understanding of how criminals prey upon and profit from their engagement with a diverse group of unwary buyers; from private collectors, to scholars, to galleries, and even museums.

Why some counties are at greater risk

We will examine cases illustrating how criminal actors exploit heritage vulnerabilities for profit.

How People Are Reacting

I took this online course as an introduction to the topic when the COVID pandemic prevented me from attending ARCA’s PG Cert program in Italy. The course gave me an exciting baseline introduction and I look forward to taking their summer professional training program next year.
Sarah Scott

As a university student taking courses in organized crime and terrorism, I wanted to understand better how art intersects with these more well known types of criminal behaviors. Professor Tijhuis and Professor Albertson gave me an excellent overview and I look forward to seeing what other courses on the subject ARCA develops.
Luis Rodriguez